Yes, yes, I said next post was Silverton, but here’s what your railway pass price purchases, that you may not know or think about:
- Personnel and rail cars that travel the track before the first train, everyday, to check for obstacles and fire dangers along the track
- A helicopter equipped with a bucket hovers over every train that makes the trip during the day – to quickly dip up water from the Animas to put out any fires the authentic steam locomotive cinders may ignite
- The engineering/upkeep of specially manufactured stacks that control flow and spray mist to allow the authentic steam locomotive to run through lovely mountain areas you’d hate to see destroyed by fire without causing such a danger in drought conditions
- The firefighting equipment loaded on every train to deal with the unexpected
- The rail car with personnel that follows every train up and keeps an eye out for any wayward sparks.
How do I know all this? Because the Durango Silverton faced a hard decision in 2002 – the fire that year was not caused by them, but they realized that if they wished to continue operations using historic steam locomotives, without causing danger to the land they loved, more fire safety preventions needed to be put in place.
I also know because while looking out the window along the way, I spotted a small flame lick up next to a rock and pretty Indian Paintbrush plant – I called out to our guide and was ridiculed and then assured by my fellow tourists that I had just seen a ‘controlled burn’ – regardless, word was passed back to our Angel Firefighter crew following behind the train and the small flame was quickly extinguished. The guide and conductor thanked me for speaking up, which reinforced my belief –
“Folks may think you a fool, but if you think it ought to be said, speak up!”